Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'NYT' Editorial -- and Frank Rich -- Rip Democrats over 'Capitulation' on Mukasey Okay

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'NYT' Editorial -- and Frank Rich -- Rip Democrats over 'Capitulation' on Mukasey Okay

Article excerpt

Expressing an unusual level of disgust with Democratic leaders, The New York Times in a Sunday editorial criticizes, even mocks, the party's leaders for failing to halt the nomination of Michael Mukasey as the new U.S. Attorney General this week.

He won the nod with a handful of Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, helping give the president 53 votes. But as the Times -- following the lead of several liberal bloggers -- pointed out, this was far short of the number needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster, a tactic often used by Republicans in the past year.

In his Sunday column, Frank Rich added: "As Gen. Pervez Musharraf arrested judges, lawyers and human-rights activists in Pakistan last week, our Senate was busy demonstrating its own civic mettle. Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, liberal Democrats from America's two most highly populated blue states, gave the thumbs up to Michael B. Mukasey, ensuring his confirmation as attorney general.

"So what if America's chief law enforcement official won't say that waterboarding is illegal? A state of emergency is a state of emergency. You're either willing to sacrifice principles to head off the next ticking bomb, or you're with the terrorists. Constitutional corners were cut in Washington in impressive synchronicity with General Musharraf's crackdown in Islamabad."

Here is an excerpt from the editorial. It and the Rich column are at www.nytimes.com.*

On Thursday, the Senate voted by 53 to 40 to confirm Mr. Mukasey even though he would not answer a simple question: does he think waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning used to extract information from a prisoner, is torture and therefore illegal?

Democrats offer excuses for their sorry record, starting with their razor-thin majority. But it is often said that any vote in the Senate requires more than 60 votes -- enough to overcome a filibuster. So why did Mr. Mukasey get by with only 53 votes? Given the success the Republicans have had in blocking action when the Democrats cannot muster 60 votes, the main culprit appears to be the Democratic leadership, which seems uninterested in or incapable of standing up to Mr. Bush.

Senator Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat who turned the tide for this nomination, said that if the Senate did not approve Mr. …

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